A Year Amongst the Persians: Kirman Society


      IN no town which I visited in Persia did I make so many friends and acquaintances of every grade of society, and every shade of piety and impiety, as at Kirman. When I left I made a list of all the persons who had visited me, or whom I had visited, and found that the number of those whom I could remember fell but little short of a hundred. Amongst these almost every rank, from the Prince-Governor down to the mendicant dervish, was represented, as well as a respectable variety of creeds and nationalities--Beluchis, Hindoos, Zoroastrians, Shi'ites and Sunnis, Sheykhis, Sufis, Babis, both Beha'i and Ezeli, dervishes, and kalandars belonging to no order, fettered by no dogma, and trammelled by but few principles. Hitherto I had always been more or less dependent on the hospitality of friends, whose feelings I was obliged to consult in choosing my acquaintances; here in Kirman thc garden where I dwelt was open to all comers, and I was able without let or hindrance to pursue that object which, since my arrival in Persia, had been ever before me, namely, to familiarise myself with all, even the most eccentric and antinomian, developments


of the protean Persian genius. I succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectations, and, as will presently be set forth, found myself ere long in a world whereof I had never dreamed, and wherein my spirit was subjected to such alternations of admiration, disgust, and wonder, as I had never before in my life experienced.

      All this, however, did not come to me at once, and would not, perhaps, have come at all but for a fortunate misfortune which entirely altered all my plans, and prolonged the period of my stay at Kirman from the fortnight or three weeks which I had originally intended to a couple of months. For just as I was about to depart thence (having, indeed, actually engaged a muleteer for the journey to Shiraz by way of Sirjan, Khir, and Niriz), I fell a victim to a sharp attack of ophthalmia, which for some weeks compelled me to abandon all idea of resuming my travels. And this ophthalmia, from which I suffered no little pain, had another result tending to throw me more than would otherwise have been the case into the society of dervishes, dreamers, and mystics. Judge me not harshly, O thou who hast never known sickness--ay, and for a while partial blindness-- in a strange land, if in my pain and my wakefulness I at length yielded to the voice of the tempter, and fled for refuge to that most potent, most sovereign, most seductive, and most enthralling of masters, opium. Unwisely I may have acted in this matter, though not, as I feel, altogether culpably; yet to this unwisdom I owe an experience which I would not willingly have forfeited, though I am thankful enough that the chain of my servitude was snapped ere the last flicker of resolution and strenuousness finally expired in the Nirvana of the opium-smoker. I often wonder if any of those who have returned to tell the tale in the outer world have wandered farther than myself into the flowery labyrinths of the poppy-land, for of him who enters its fairy realms too true, as a rule, is the Persian opium-smoker's epigram--


      Although it was some while after my arrival in Kirman that I became numbered amongst the intimates of the aforesaid Sir Opium, he lost no time in introducing himself to my notice in the person of one of his faithful votaries, Mirza Huseyn- Kuli of Bam (a pleasant, gentle, dreamy soul, of that type which most readily succumbs to the charm of the poppy), who came to visit me in Na'ib Hasan's company on the very day of my entry into the garden. Soon after this, too, I came into daily relations with another bondsman of the all-potent drug, one 'Abdu'l Huseyn, whom Haji Safar, in accordance with the agreement made between himself and myself at Yezd, had hired to look after my horse. He was far advanced on the downward path, and often, when sent to buy bread or other provisions in the shops hard by the city-gate, would he remain away for hours at a time, and return at last without having accomplished his commission, and unable to give any account of how the time had passed. This used to cause me some annoyance till such time as I too fell under the spell of the poppy-wizard, when I ceased to care any longer (because the opium-smoker cares not greatly for food or indeed for aught else in the material world save his elixir), nay, I even found a certain tranquil satisfaction in his vagaries. But I must leave for a while these delicious reminiscences and return to the comparatively uneventful fortnight with which my residence at Kirman began. Of this I shall perhaps succeed in giving the truest picture by following in the main the daily entries which I made in my diary.

      On the day of my instalment in the garden (Wednesday, 5th June, 25th Ramazan) I received several visitors besides the opium-smoker of Bam. Chief amongst these was a certain notable Sheykh of Kum, whose doubtful orthodoxy had made


it expedient for him to leave the sacred precincts of his native town for happy, heedless Kirman. Here he had succeeded in gaining the confidence and esteem of Prince Nasiru'd-Dawla, the Governor, in whose society most of his time was passed, either in consultation on affairs of state, or in games of chance, for which he cared the less because he was almost invariably the loser. He was a burly, genial, kind-hearted gentleman, with but little of the odour of sanctity so much sought after in his native town, and a fund of wit and information. I afterwards saw much of him, and learned that he was an Ezeli Babi, so far as he was anything at all (for by many he was accounted a free-thinker, "la-madhhab"); but in this first interview he gave no further indication of his proclivities than to enquire whether I had not a copy of Manakji's New History of the Babi Theophany. With him came two brothers, merchants of Yezd, whom I will call Aka Muhsin and Aka Muhammad Sadik. Of the former, who was an orthodox Shi'ite, I saw but little subsequently; but with the younger brother, a man of singular probity and most amiable disposition, I became rather intimate, and from him I met with a disinterested kindness which I shall not omit to record in its proper place. He too was a Babi, but a follower of Beha, not of Ezel; as also was a third brother, who, being but a lad of fifteen or sixteen, was suddenly so overcome by a desire to behold the face of Beha that he ran away from Kirman with only five tumans in his pocket, with the set purpose of making his way to Acre, on the Syrian coast, in which project, thanks to the help of kindly Zoroastrians at Bandar-i-'Abbas, and the Babis of Bombay and Beyrout, he was successful. I subsequently made the acquaintance of another lad whose imagination was so stirred by this exploit that he was determined to imitate it at the first opportunity, though whether or no his plan was realised I cannot say.

      Thursday, 6th June, 26th Ramazdn.--Soon after I was up I received a visit from Na'ib Hasan (who, indeed, lost no time in


establishing himself in the position of my guide, philosopher, and friend, and who seldom allowed a day to pass without giving me the pleasure of his society for a good many hours, including at least one meal). With him came Rustam, the young Zoroastrian of whom I have already spoken, who, on this occasion, outstayed the Na'ib. This Rustam was a well-mannered and intelligent lad, whose only fault was an unduly deferential manner, which at times I found rather irksome. He asked me many questions about my country and about America ("Yangi- dunya," "the New World"), in which, like several other Persians whom I met, he appeared to take an extraordinary interest; for what reason I know not, since he had not the excuse of supposing, like some Muhammadans, that thence, by some underground channel, Antichrist (Dajjal) shall reach the well in Isfahan from which, at the end of time, he is to appear.

      In the afternoon I went into the town, accompanied by Haji Safar and Mirza Yusuf, notwithstanding a message which I received from the Sardar of Sistan informing me of his intention of paying me a visit. We passed the walls, not by the adjacent Derwaze-i-Nasiriyya, but by another gate called Derwaze-i- Masjid ("the Mosque Gate"), lying more to the west, from which a busy thoroughfare (thronged, especially on "Friday eve," with hosts of beggars) leads directly to the bazaars, and paid a visit to my Zoroastrian friends in the caravansaray of Ganj 'Ali Khan (where, for the most part, their offices are situated) and to the post-office. In the bazaars I met a quaint-looking old Hindoo, who persisted in addressing me in his own uncouth Hindi, which he seemed to consider that I as an Englishman was bound to understand. We returned about sunset by the way we had come, and met crowds of people, who had been to pay their respects to a deceased saint interred in a mausoleum just outside the Mosque Gate, re-entering the city.

      On reaching the garden I found another visitor awaiting me-- an inquisitive, meddlesome, self-conceited scion of some once


influential but now decayed family, who, in place of the abundant wealth which he had formerly possessed, subsisted on a pension of 150 tumans allowed him by the Prince-Governor in consideration of his former greatness. For this person, whose name was Haji Muhammad Khan, I conceived a very particular aversion. He manifested a great curiosity as to my rank, my income, and the object of my journey, and presently assured me that he detected in me a remarkable likeness to the Prince of Wales, with whom, he declared, he had struck up an acquaintance one evening at the Crystal Palace. "Don't attempt to deceive me," he added, with many sly nods and winks: "I understand how one of noble birth may for a time be under a cloud, and may find it expedient to travel in disguise and to forgo that state and circumstance to which he is justly entitled. I am in somewhat the same position myself, but I am not going to continue thus for long. I have had a hint from the Aminu's-Sultan, and am wanted at Teheran. There are those who would like to prevent my reaching the capital," he continued mysteriously, "but never fear, I will outwit them. When you leave Kirman for Shiraz, I leave it in your company, and with me you shall visit Shahr-i- Babak and many other interesting places on our way thither." Na'ib Hasan fooled him to the top of his bent, unfolding vast and shadowy pictures of my power and affluence, and declaring that I had unlimited credit with the Zoroastrian merchants of Kirman; which falsehoods Haji Muhammad Khan (whom copious libations of beer were rendering every moment more credulous and more mysterious) greedily imbibed. When he had gone I remonstrated vigorously with the Na'ib for his mendacity. "I suppose it is no use for me to remind you that it is wicked to tell lies," I remarked, "but at least you must see how silly and how futile it is to make assertions whereof the falsity cannot remain hidden for more than a few days, and which are likely to land me in difficulties." But the Na'ib only shook his head and laughed, as though to say that lying was in itself an artistic


and pleasurable exercise of the imagination, in which, when there was no reason to the contrary, he might fairly allow himself to indulge. So, finding remonstrance vain, I presently retired to rest in some disgust.

      Friday, 7th June, 27th Ramazan.--In the morning I was visited by an old Zoroastrian woman, who was anxious to learn whether I had heard in Teheran any talk of Aflatun ("Plato") having turned Musulman. It took me some little while to discover that the said Aflatun was not the Greek philosopher but a young Zoroastrian in whom she was interested, though why a follower of "the good Mazdayasnian religion" should take to himself a name like this baffles my comprehension. In the afternoon I was invaded by visitors. First of all came a Beluch chief named Afzal Khan, a picturesque old man with long black hair, a ragged moustache, very thin on the upper lip and very long at the ends, and a singularly gorgeous coat. He was accompanied by two lean and hungry-looking retainers, all skin and sword-blade; but though he talked much I had some difficulty in understanding him at times, since he spoke Persian after the corrupt and vicious fashion prevalent in India. He enquired much of England and the English, whom he evidently regarded with mingled respect and dislike. "Kal'at-i-Nasiri is my city," he replied, in answer to a question which I put to him; "three months' journey from here, or two months if your horse be sound, swift, and strong. Khan Khudadad Khan is the Amir, if he be not dead, as I have heard men say lately." He further informed me that his language was not Beluchi but Brahu'i, which is spoken in a great part of Beluchistan.

      The next visitors to arrive were the postmaster, Aka Muhammad Sadik (the young Yezdi merchant of whom I have already spoken), and the eldest son of the Prince-Telegraphist. The last upbraided me for taking up my abode in the garden instead of in the new telegraph-office, which his father had placed at my disposal; but his recriminations were cut short by the arrival of


a Tabrizi merchant, two Zoroastrians, an Ezeli Babi (whom I will call Mulla Yusuf, to distinguish him from my Tabrizi satellite Mirza Yusuf), who appeared on this occasion as a zealous Musulman, and undertook to convince me on some future occasion of the superiority of Islam to Christianity; and a middle-aged man of very subdued demeanour (how deceptive may appearances be!), dressed in a long jubbe, fez, and small white turban, after the manner of Asiatic Turks, to whom, under the pseudonym of Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultan-abad, I shall have frequent occasion to refer in this and the succeeding chapter. These, in turn, were followed by four more Zoroastrians, including Gushtasp, Feridun, and Rustam, who outstayed the other visitors, and did not depart till they had pledged me in wine after the rite of the Magians, after which I had supper with Na'ib Hasan, and sat talking with him till nearly midnight.

      Saturday, 8th June, 28th Ramazan.--In the morning I visited one of the shawl-manufactories of Kirman in company with Rustam, Na'ib Hasan, and Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz. Our way lay through the street leading to the Mosque Gate, which, by reason of the Saturday market (Bazar-i-Shanba), was thronged with people. The shawl-manufactory consisted of one large vaulted room containing eleven looms, two or three of which were standing idle. At each loom sat three workers, one skilled workman in the middle, and on either side of him a shagird or apprentice, whom he was expected to instruct and supervise. There were in all twenty-five apprentices, ranging in years from children of six and seven to men of mature age. Their wages, as I learned, begin at ten tumans (about 3 pounds) a year, and increase gradually to twenty-four or twenty-five tumans (about 7 pounds 10 shillings). In summer they work from sunrise to sunset, and in winter they continue their work by candle-light till three hours after sunset. They have a half-holiday on Friday (from rnid-day onwards), thirteen days' holiday at the Nawruz, and one or two days more on the great annual festivals, while for food they get nothing as


a rule but dry bread. Poor little Kirmanis! They must toil thus, deprived of good air and sunlight, and debarred from the recreations and amusements which should brighten their childhood, that some grandee may bedeck himself with those sumptuous shawls, which, beautiful as they are, will evermore seem to me to be dyed with the blood of the innocents! The shawls manufactured are of very different qualities. The finest, of three or three and a half ells in length, require twelve or fifteen months for their completion, and are sold at forty or fifty tumans apiece; others, destined for the Constantinople market, and of much coarser texture, can be finished in a month or six weeks, and are sold for ten or fifteen krans. Of late, however, the shawl trade had been on the decline; and the proprietor of this establishment told me that he was thinking of closing his workshops for a year, and making a pilgrimage to Kerbela, hoping, I suppose, to win by this act of piety the Divine favour, which he would have better merited by some attempt to ameliorate the condition of the poor little drudges who toiled at his looms.

      I next visited the one fire-temple which suffices for the spiritual needs of the Kirman Zoroastrians, and was there received by the courteous and intelligent old Dastur and my friend Ferfdun. I could not see the sacred fire, because the mubad whose business it was to tend it had locked it up and taken the key away with him. In general appearance this fire-ternple resembled those which I had seen at Yezd. I enquired as to the manuscripts of the sacred books preserved in the temple, and was shown two: a copy of the Avesta of 210 leaves, transcribed in the year A.H. 1086 (A.D. 1675-6), and completed on "the day of Aban, in the month of Bahman, in the year 1044 of Yezdigird," by the hand of Dastur Marzaban, the son of Dastur Bahram, the son of Marzaban, the son of Feridun; and a copy of the Yashts, completed by the hand of Dastur Isfandiyar, the son of Dastur Nushirvan, the son of Dastur Isfandiyar, the son of Dastur Ardashir, the son of Dastur Adhar of Sistan, on "the day of Bahman, in the month


of Isfandarmad, in the year 1108 of Yezdigird," corresponding to A.H. 1226 (A.D. 1811). I found that the Dastur was much interested in the occult science of geomancy ('ilm-i-ramal, which, he informed me, required the assiduous study of a lifetime ere one could hope to attain proficiency. He was also very full of a rare old book called the Jamasp-nama, of which he said only one copy, stolen by a Musulman named Huseyn from the house of a Zoroastrian in Yezd, existed in Kirman, though he had information of another copy in the library of the Mosque at Mashhad. This book he described as containing a continuous series of prophecies, amongst which was included the announcement of the return of Shah Bahram, the Zoroastrian Messiah, to re-establish "the Good Religion." This Shah Bahram, to whose expected advent I have already alluded at p. 432 supra, is believed to be a descendant of Hurmuz the son of Yezdigird (the last Sasanian king), who fled from before the Arab invaders, with Peshutan and other fire-priests, to China; whence he will return to Fars by way of India in the fullness of tirne. Amongst the signs heralding his coming will be a great famine, and the destruction of the city of Shushtar.

      In the evening I went for a ride outside the city with Feridun, Rustam, and the son of the postmaster. We first visited a neighbouring garden to see the working of one of the dulabs generally employed in Kirman for raising water to the surface. The dulab consisted of two large wooden wheels, one set horizontally and the other vertically in the jaws of the well, cogged together. A blindfolded cow harnessed to a shaft inserted in the axle of the former communicated a rotatory motion to the latter, over which a belt of rope passed downwards into the well, to a depth of about five ells. To this rope earthenware pitchers were attached, and each pitcher as it came uppermost on the belt emptied its contents into a channel communicating with a small reservoir. The whole arrangement was primitive, picturesque, and inefficient.


From the dulab we proceeded to the "old town" (shahr-i- kadim), situated on the craggy heights lying (if I remember rightly) to the west of the present city, and said to date from the time of Ardashir-i-Babakan, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty. There are a number of ruined buildings on these heights, including one known as the Kadam-gah, where vows and offerings are made by the Kirmanis. From this place we proceeded to another valley, closed to the south by beetling cliffs studded with cavernous openings which are said to extend far into the rock. High up on the left of this valley is a little building known as Darya-Kuli Beg, whither, leaving our horses below, we ascended, and there sat for a while drinking wine by the light of the setting sun. My companions informed me that formerly the mouth of the valley below had been closed by a band or dyke, and all the upper part of it converted into a gigantic lake whereon boat races, watched by the king and his court from the spot where we sat, took place on certain festal occasions.

      As we rode homewards in the gathering twilight the postmaster's son craved a boon of me, which I think worth mentioning as illustrative of that strange yearning after martyrdom which is not uncommon amongst the Babis. Bringing his horse alongside of mine at a moment when the two Zoroastrians were engaged in private conversation, he thus addressed me:--" Sahib, you intend, as you have told me, to visit Acre. If this great happiness be allotted to you, and if you look upon the Blessed Beauty (Jemal-i-Mubarak, i.e. Beha'u'llah), do not forget me, nor the request which I now prefer. Say, if opportunity be granted you, 'There is such an one in Kirman, so-and-so by name, whose chief desire is that his name may be mentioned once in the Holy Presence, that he may once (if it be not too much to ask) be honoured by an Epistle, and that he may then quaff the draught of martyrdom in the way of the Beloved.'"

      Sunday, 9th June, 29th Ramazan.--To-day I received a demonstration in geomancy ('ilm-i-ramal) from a young Zoroastrian,


Bahram-i-Bihruz, whom I met in Mulla Gushtasp's room in the caravansaray of Ganj-'Ali Khan. The information about myself with which his science supplied him was almost entirely incorrect, and was in substance as follows:--"A month ago you received bad news, and suffered much through some absent person.... Fifteen days ago some physical injury befell you.... By the next post you will receive good news.... In another month you will receive very good news.... You are at present in good health, but your caloric is in excess and the bilious humour predominates.... Your appetite is bad, and you should take some laxative medicine." This is a fair specimen of the kind of answer which he who consults the rammal (geomancer) is likely to get; but it is fair to say that Bahram laid claim to no great proficiency in the science. However, he promised to introduce me to a Musulman who was reputed an adept in the occult sciences, including the taskhir-i-jinn, or command of familiar spirits, and this promise, as will presently be set forth, he faithfully kept.

      While Bahram was busy with his geomancy, a dervish boy, who afterwards proved to be a Babi, entered the room where we were sitting (for the dervish is free to enter any assembly and to go wherever it seemeth good to him), and presented me with a white flower. I gave him a kran, whereupon, at the suggestion of one of those present, he sung a ghazal, or ode, in a very sweet voice, with a good deal of taste and feeling.

      Later on in the day I visited Mirza Rahim Khan, the Farrash- bashi, and Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultan-abad, whom I have already had occasion to mention. The latter, as I discovered, had, after the manner of kalandars of his type, taken up his abode in the house of the former, till such time as he should be tired of his host, or his host of him. Thence I went to the house of the Sheykh of Kum, where I met two young artillery officers, brothers, one of whom subsequently proved to be an Ezeli Babi. I was more than ever impressed with the Sheykh's genial, kindly manner, and wide knowledge. I enquired of him particularly


as to the most authentic and esteemed collections of Shi'ite traditions, and he mentioned two, the Mi'raju's-Sa'adat ("Ascent of Happiness"), and a very large and detailed work in fifteen or sixteen volumes, by Jemalu'd-Din Hasan ibn Yusuf ibn 'Ali of Hilla entitled 'Allama ("the Great Doctor"), called Biharu'l- Anvar ("Oceans of Light"). We then talked for a while about metaphysics, and he expressed astonishment at the lack of interest in the subject generally prevalent in Europe; after which we passed by a natural transition to the doctrines of the Sheykhis and Babis, about which he gave me not a little information. It had been intended that I should visit the Prince-Governor in company with the Sheykh, but the visit was postponed, as the Prince sent word that he was indisposed, and wished to sleep.

      In the evening I received another visit from the garrulous Haji Muhammad Khan, who seemed to me rather less disagreeable than on the occasion of his first call. After his departure a temporary excitement was caused by the discovery of a theft which had been committed in the garden. A Shirazi muleteer, who intended shortly to return home by way of Sirjan and Niriz, had greatly importuned me to hire his mules for the journey and this I had very foolishly half consented to do. These mules were accordingly tied up in the garden near my horse, and it was their coverings which, as the muleteer excitedly informed us, had been removed by the thief. The curious thing was that my horse's coverings, which were of considerably more value, had not been touched, and I am inclined to believe that the muleteer hirnself was the thief. He caused me trouble enough afterwards; for when, owing to the ophthalmia with which I was attacked, I was obliged to rescind the bargain, he lodged a complaint against the poor gardener, whom he charged with the theft. A farrash was sent by the vazir to arrest him; whereupon the said gardener and his wife, accompanied by the myrmidon of the law, came before me wringing their hands, uttering loud lamentations, and beseeching me to intercede in their favour. So, though


my eyes ached most painfully, I was obliged to write a long letter to the vazir in Persian, declaring the gardener to be, to the best of my belief, an honest and worthy fellow, and requesting, as a personal favour, that he might be subjected to no further annoyance. I furthermore took the precaution of promising a present of money to the farrash when he returned with the gardener, in case the latter had suffered no ill-treatment; and, thanks to these measures, I succeeded in delivering him from the trouble in which the malice of the muleteer threatened to involve him; but the effect of the exertion of my eyes in writing the letter was to cause a recrudescence of the inflammation, which had previously been on the decline. So the muleteer had his revenge, which, I suppose, was what he desired and intended.

      Monday, 10th June, 30th Ramazan.--In the morning I visited several persons in the town, including two of my Zoroastrian friends, Shahriyar and Bahman. The shop of the former was crowded with soldiers just home from Jask and Bandar-i-'Abbas, so that conversation was impossible, and I left almost immediately. Bahman, on the other hand, had only one visitor, an old seyyid named Aka Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak, of whom I afterwards saw a good deal--in fact rather more than I wished. He conversed with me in a very affable manner, chiefly, of course, on religious topics, and, amongst other things, narrated to me the following curious legend about Christ:--

      "Once upon a time," said the Seyyid, "the Lord Jesus (upon whom be peace) entered into a certain city. Now, the king of that city had forbidden any one of his subjects, on pain of death, to shelter Him or supply Him with food; nevertheless, seeing a young man of very sorrowful countenance, He craved his hospitality, which was at once accorded. After the Lord Jesus had supped and rested, He enquired of His host wherefore he was so sorrowful, and eventually ascertained that he had fallen in love with the king's daughter. Then said the Lord Jesus, 'Be


of good cheer, thou shalt win her. Go to the king's palace tomorrow, and demand her in marriage, and your proposal will not be rejected.' So the young man, marvelling the while at his own audacity, repaired on the morrow to the palace, and demanded to see the king, into whose presence he was presently ushered. On hearing his proposal the king said, 'My daughter shall be yours if you can give her a suitable dowry.' So the young man returned sadly to his home (for he knew that such a dowry was far beyond his means) and told the Lord Jesus what had passed. Then said the Lord Jesus, 'If you will go to such-and-such a spot and search there you will find all that you need.' He did so, and found much gold and silver, and many precious stones of great worth--diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, and the like, beyond all that even the daughter of a king could expect or desire. So the king bestowed on him his daughter's hand. But after a time the Lord Jesus bade him leave all this and follow Him, and he, knowing now that the Great Treasure, compared to which all that he had given as the princess's dowry was as mere worthless dross, was with Christ alone, abandoned all for his Master's sake. And indeed, as this legend shows, amongst all the prophets there was none who taught the 'Path' (Tarikat) like the Lord Jesus, and this remains amongst you Christians in some measure even now, though the 'Law' (Shari'at) which he brought has little by little disappeared before Islam, so that no vestige of it is left."

      In the evening I received a visit from some of the leading members of the Hindoo community, thirteen or fourteen in number, who begged me to let them know if, at any time, they could be of service to me in any way. "We owe you this," said they, "for it is through the protection of your government that we are able to live and carry on our business here in safety and security." Later in the evening I partook of supper with several of the Zoroastrians at the dulab of the elder Gushtasp.

      Tuesday, 11th June, 1st Shawwal.--In the morning I had a visit


from Rustam, the young Zoroastrian. He told me, amongst other things, of the persecutions to which his co-religionists were occasionally exposed. "Formerly," said he, "it would often happen that they carried off one of our boys or girls, and strove to compel them by threats and torments to become Musulmans. Thus on one occasion they seized upon a Zoroastrian boy twelve years of age, carried him to the public bath, and forced him to utter the Muhammadan profession of faith, and to submit to the operation of circumcision. On another occasion they abducted two Zoroastrian girls, aged fifteen and twenty respectively, and, by every means in their power, strove to compel them to embrace the religion of Islam. One of them held out against their importunities for a long while, until at last they turned her out almost naked into the snow, and she was ultimately compelled to submit."

      In the afternoon I again went into the town to pay some visits. I entered it by the Derwaze-i-Gabr, to the east of the Derwaze-i-Nasiriyye, and visited an old mosque situated near to that gate. This mosque had, as I was informed, been wilfully destroyed by a former governor of the city, but it still showed traces of its ancient splendour. After visiting the Hindoos and some of my Zoroastrian friends, I proceeded to the house of the Sheykh of Kum, with whom, as it had been arranged, I was to pay my respects to the Prince-Governor. After drinking tea we accordingly repaired to the Bagh-i-Nasiriyye, which is situated near to the gate of the same name. On the arrival of Prince Nasiru'd-Dawla we were conducted to an upper chamber, where he received me in the kindliest and most friendly manner. He talked to me chiefly about the condition of Beluchistan (which, as well as Kirman, was under his government), and declared that a very notable improvement had taken place during the last few years. I then presented my letter of recommendation from Prince 'Imadu'd-Dawla of Yezd, and took occasion to mention the forlorn condition of Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz, and his hope


that the shadow of the Royal Protection might not be withheld from him, and that he might aspire to be numbered amongst the Prince's servants.

      In the evening I was again entertained at supper by one of my Zoroastrian friends named Shahriyar. All the other guests were of "the good religion" save myself, Na'ib Hasan (who still continued to accompany me everywhere, and to consider himself as invited to every feast whereunto I was bidden), and a singer named Faraju'llah, who had been summoned for our entertainment.

      Wednesday, 12th June, 2nd Shawwal.--Towards evening I was visited by the Beluch chief, Afzal Khan, and his son; Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak; the Sheykh of Kum, and his friend the young Babi gunner; and Mulla Yusuf the Ezeli. Between the last and Seyyid Huseyn a violent dispute arose touching the merits and demerits of the first three caliphs (so called), 'Omar, Abu Bekr, and 'Othman, whereby the other visitors were so wearied that they shortly departed, and finally the Seyyid was left in undisputed possession of the field, which he did not abandon till he had prayed the prayers of sundown (magbrib) and nightfall ('asha), and explained to me at length the significance of their various component parts, adding that if I would remain in Kirman for one month he would put me in possession of all the essentials of Islam. Na'ib Hasan and Feridun had supper with me in the char-fasl, or summer-house, on the roof of which I sat late with the latter, and finally fell asleep, with the song of a nightingale, sweet-voiced as Israfil, ringing in my ears.

      Thursday, 13th June, 3rd Shawwal.--In the morning, while walking in the bazaars, I met Afzal Khan, the Beluch, with his ragged and hungry-looking retainers. He invited me to return with him to his lodging, situated near the Derwaze-i-Rig-abad, and I, having nothing else to do, and not wishing to offend him, accepted his invitation. On our arrival there he insisted,


notwithstanding my earnest protests, on sending out for sherbets and sweetmeats wherewith to do me honour, and he put me to further shame by continued apologies for the unfurnished condition of his abode and the humble character of his entertainment, repeating again and again that he was "only a poor Beluch." Presently he got on the subject of his wrongs. The English Government, so he declared, had taken into their service one of his relatives, who had forthwith made use of his new privileges to dispossess him of all his property, and, generally speaking, to make his life a burden to him. He had therefore come to Kirman to seek employment from Prince Nasiru'd-Dawla. "If he will not help me," concluded Afzal Khan, "I intend to go to Mashhad and seek assistance from the English officials residing there; and if they will do nothing for me, I will place my services at the disposal of the Russians." Shortly afterwards I rose to go, alleging, when Afzal Khan pressed me to stay, that I had letters to write. "What letters?" he enquired suspiciously. "Oh," I answered carelessly, "letters of all sorts, to Yezd, to Shiraz, and" (this, though true, was not said altogether without mischievous intent) "to Mashhad." Then Afzal Khan, as I had anticipated, became very perturbed, and anxiously inquired what acquaintances I had at Mashhad, evidently supposing that I intended to inform the English representatives there of his intentions, so that they might intercept him in case he should attempt to reach Russian territory. But, indeed, the poor fellow's services, on which he evidently set a high value, were not likely to be accounted as of much value by anyone else--Persian, English, or Russian.

      In the afternoon I visited Mulla Yusuf the Ezeli, who, though he talked about nothing else than religion, confined himself, much to my disappointment, to the Muhammadan dispensation. He admitted my contention that by many paths men may attain to a knowledge of God, and that salvation was not for the votaries of one religion only, but maintained that, though all roads led


to the same goal, some were safe, short, and sure, and others circuitous and perilous, "wherefore," said he, "it behoves us to seek the shortest and safest way, whereby we may most speedily, and with least danger, attain the desired haven." We had a good deal of discussion, too, about the code of laws established by Muhammad, some of which (as, for example, the punishment of theft by amputation of the hand) I condernned as barbarous and irrational. To this he replied by arguing that the lex talionis was intended merely to fix the extreme limit of punishment which could be inflicted on an offender, and that forgiveness was as highly extolled by the Muhammadan as by the Christian religion. This discussion lasted so long that on reaching the gate on my homeward way I found it shut, and was obliged to creep through a hole in the city wall known to the cunning Na'ib Hasan.

      Friday, 14th June, 4th Shawwal.--This afternoon Mulla Yusuf the Ezeli and one of his friends came to visit me and continue the discussion of yesterday. They talked much about Reason, and the Universal Intelligence, which, according to the words "Awwalu ma khalaka'llahu'l-'Akl," was the first Creation or Emanation of God, and which, at diverse times and in diverse manners, has spoken to mankind through the mouth of the prophets. Reason, said they, is of four kinds; 'akl bi'l-kuwwa ("Potential Reason," such as exists in an untaught child); 'akl bi'l-fi'l ("Actual" or "Effective Reason," such as belongs to those of cultivated intelligence); 'akl bi'l-malaka ("Habitual Reason;" such as the angels enjoy); and 'akl-i-mustakfi ("All- sufficing Reason"). This last is identical with the "First Intelligence" ('akl-i-awwal), or "Universal Reason" ('akl-i-kulli), which inspires the prophets, and, indeed, becomes incarnate in them, so that by it they have knowledge of all things--that is, of their essences, not of the technical terms which in the eyes of men constitute an integral part of science. Whosoever is endowed with this "All-sufficing Reason," and claims to be a prophet, must be accepted as such; but unless he chooses to advance


this claim, men are not obliged to accord him this rank. Next in rank to the prophet (nabi) is the saint (vali), whose essential characteristic is a love for God which makes him ready to lay down his life willingly and joyfully for His sake. The love of the vali is such that by it he often becomes insensible to pain. Thus it is related of 'Ali b. Abi Talib, the first Imam, that he was once wounded in the foot by an arrow. Attempts made to extract it only resulted in detaching the shaft from the barb, which remained in the wound, and caused so much pain that it seemed impossible for 'Ali to endure any further operation. Then said one of his sons, "Wait till the time for prayer comes round, for when my father is engaged in prayer he becomes unconscious of all earthly things, being wholly absorbed in communion with God, and you can then extract the arrow-head without his so much as feeling it." And this they did with complete success.

      Mulla Yusuf told me another anecdote about 'Ali, which, though it is well-known to students of Arabic history*, will bear repetition. He had overthrown an infidel foe, and, kneeling on his prostrate body, was about to despatch him with his sword, when the fallen unbeliever spat in his face. Thereupon 'Ali at once relinquished his hold on his adversary, rose to his feet, and sheathed his sword. On being asked the reason of this, he replied, "When he spat in my face I was filled with anger against him, and I feared that, should I kill him, personal indignation would partially actuate me; wherefore I let him go, since I would not kill him otherwise than from a sincere and unmixed desire to serve God."

      At this point our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz accompanied by one of the Prince's servants, who in turn were followed by Feridun and Na'ib Hasan. The two last and Mirza Yusuf remained to drink wine after the others had gone; and Mirza Yusuf, who was in a boastful humour, began to say, "If you wish to know anything about

* See, for instance, el-Fakhri (ed. Ahlwardt), p. 54.


the Babis, I am the man to tell you, for I knew all their chief men at Yezd, and, indeed, professed myself a convert to their doctrines so as to gain their confidence. They gave me some of their books to read, including one[1] wherein the reader was addressed in such words as 'O child of Earth,' 'O child of my handmaid,' and the like." And in fact Mirza Yusuf had succeeded in finding out a good deal about the Babis, though his information was in some matters erroneous. He declared, for instance, that Kurratu'l-'Ayn was put to death by being cast from the summit of the Citadel (Arg) at Tabriz, but that the first time she was launched into the air she was so buoyed up by her clothes that she escaped all hurt[2]. My last visitor was Seyyid Hasan of Jandak, whose arrival caused the other guests to conceal the wine, and, at the earliest possible opportunity, to depart. He was in a captious frame of mind, finding fault with the newspaper Akhtar (of which the Sheykh of Kum had sent me a recent issue) for talking about the Zillu's-Sultan's "resignation" (isti'fa), instead of calling it, in plain Persian, his dismissal ('azl), and taking exception to sundry idioms and expressions in a letter from the Prince-Governor of Yezd, which, at his request, I allowed him to read.

      Saturday, 15th June, 5th Shawwal.--To-day, while I was sitting in the shop of a merchant of my acquaintance, Haji 'Abdu'llah of Shiraz, Bahram-i-Bihruz hurried up to inform me that his friend the magician, Haji Mirza Muhsin, the controller of spirits and genies, was at that moment in his shop, and that if I would come thither he would present me to him. I wished to go at


once, but Haji 'Abdu'llah and Na'ib Hasan strove to detain me, and while we were engaged in discussion the magician passed by the shop in person. Haji 'Abdu'llah invited him to enter, which he at first declined to do, and made as though he would pass on; but suddenly changing his mind he turned back, entered the shop, and seated himself amongst us.

      "This Sahib," said Na'ib Hasan, as soon as the customary greetings had been interchanged, "has heard of your skill in the occult sciences, and desires to witness a specimen of the powers with which you are credited."

      "What would it profit him?" replied the magician; and then, turning to me, "Is your motive in desiring to witness an exhibition of my powers a mere idle curiosity? Or is it that you seek to understand the science by means of which I can produce effects beyond the power or comprehension of your learned men?"

      "Sir," I answered, "my object in making this request is, in the first instance, to obtain ocular evidence of the existence of powers generally denied by our men of learning, but which I, in the absence of any sufficient evidence, presume neither to deny nor to affirm. If, having given me such evidence of their existence as I desire, you will further condescend to acquaint me with some of the principles of your science, I need not say that my gratitude will be increased. But even to be convinced that such powers exist would be a great gain."

      "You have spoken well," said the magician with approval, "and I am willing to prove to you the reality of that science concerning which you doubt. But first of all let me tell you that all that I can accomplish I do by virtue of powers centred in myself, not, as men affirm, by the instrumentality of the jinn, which, indeed, are mere creatures of the imagination, and have no real existence. Has any one of you a comb?"

      Haji 'Abdu'llah at once produced a comb from the recesses of his pocket, and handed it to Haji Muhsin, who threw it on


the ground at a distance of about three feet from him to the left. Then he again turned to me, and said--

      "Are your men of learning acquainted with any force inherent in the human body whereby motion may be communicated, without touch, to a distant object?"

      "No," I replied, "apart from the power of attraction latent in amber, the magnet, and some other substances, we know of no such force; certainly not in the human body."

      "Very well," said he, "then if I can make this comb come to me from the spot where it lies, you will have to admit that I possess a power whereof your learned men do not even know the existence. That the distance is in this case small, and the object light and easily movable, is nothing, and does not in the least degree weaken the force of the proof. I could equally transport you from the garden where you live to any place which I chose. Now look."

      Then he moistened the tip of his finger with his tongue, leaned over to the left, and touched the comb once, after which he resumed his former position, beckoned to the comb with the fingers of his left hand, and called "Bi-ya, bi-ya" ("Come! come!"). Thereat, to my surprise, the comb spun rapidly round once or twice, and then began to advance towards him in little leaps, he continuing the while to beckon it onwards with the fingers of his left hand, which he did not otherwise move. So far one might have supposed that when he touched the comb with his moistened finger-tip he had attached to it a fine hair or strand of silk, by which, while appearing but to beckon with his fingers, he dexterously managed to draw the comb towards him. But now, as the comb approached within eighteen inches or so of his body, he extended his left hand beyond it, continuing to call and beckon as before; so that for the remainder of its course it was receding from the hand, always with the same jerky, spasmodic motion.

      Haji Muhsin now returned the comb to its owner, and


requested me for the loan of my watch. I handed to him the clumsy, china-backed watch which I had bought at Teheran to replace the one which I had lost between Erzeroum and Tabriz, and he did with it as he had done with the comb, save that, when he began to call and beckon to it, it made one rapid gyration and a short leap towards him, and then stopped. He picked it up, looked closely at it, and returned it to me, saying, "There is something amiss with this watch of yours; it seems to me that it is stolen property."

      "Well," I replied rather tartly, "I did not steal it at any rate; I bought it in Teheran for three tumans to replace my own watch, which I lost in Turkey. How it came into the hands of him from whom I bought it I cannot, of course, say."

      After this the magician became very friendly with me, promising to visit me in my lodging and show me feats far more marvellous than what I had just witnessed. "You shall select any object you choose," said he, "and bury it wherever you please in your garden, so that none but yourself shall know where it is hidden. I will then come and pronounce certain incantations over a brass cup, which will then lead me direct to the place where the object is buried." Hearing that I was to visit the vazir of Kirman, he insisted on accompanying me.

      The vazir was a courteous old man of very kindly countenance and gentle manners, and I stayed conversing with him for more than half an hour. A number of persons were present, including the kalantar, or mayor, whose servant had that morning received a severe application of the bastinado for having struck the kedkhuda, or chief man, of a village to which he had been sent to collect taxes or rents. Haji Mirza Muhsin, who lacked nothing so little as assurance, gave the vazir a sort of lecture on me (as though I were a curious specimen), which he concluded, somewhat to my consternation, by declaring that he intended to accompany me back to my own country, and to enlighten the


ignorance of its learned men as to the occult sciences, of which he was a master.

      On leaving the vazir's presence, I accompanied the magician to his lodging, and was introduced to his brother, a finelooking man of middle age, dressed after the fashion of the Baghdadis in jubbe, fez, and white turban, who spoke both Arabic and Ottoman Turkish with fluency. There were also present a number of children, belonging, as I gathered, to Haji Mirza Muhsin, who was still mourning a domestic tragedy which had recently led to the death of his eldest son, a lad of sixteen. "Ah, you should have seen him," he said, "such a handsome boy, and so quick and clever. None of my other children can compare with him." He did not acquaint me with the details of his son's untimely death, which, according to Na'ib Hasan were as follows:--One of Mirza Muhsin's servants, or disciples had a very beautiful wife, with whom his son fell madly in love. Mirza Muhsin, on being informed by the boy of his passion, promised to induce the girl's husband to free her by divorce. In this he succeeded, but, instead of bestowing her hand on his son, he married her himself. The lad remonstrated vehemently with his father, who only replied, "It was for my sake, not yours, that her former husband divorced her." Thereupon the boy, in an access of passionate disappointment, shot himself through the head two stages out from Kirman, whither they were then journeying from Sirjan.

      Sunday, 16th June, 6th Shawwal.--To-day I was invited to take my mid-day meal (nahar) with the postmaster. On my way thither I encountered, near the Derwaze-i-Masjid, one of my Zoroastrian friends, Key-Khosraw, who informed me with some excitement that two "Firangis" had just arrived in Kirman. "Come and talk to them," he added, "for they are now in the street a little farther on." I accordingly followed him, though with no great alacrity, for I enjoyed the feeling of being the only European in Kirman, and had no wish to spoil the unmixedly


Persian character of my environment by forming an acquaintance with two promiscuous Europeans, who might very likely, I thought, be mere adventurers, and whose presence I was inclined to resent. We soon found one of the newcomers, a little gray-bearded Frenchman, who was very reticent as to his object in visiting Kirman, and told me no more than that his companion (also French) spoke English much better than himself (which I could readily believe, for his pronunciation was vile, and his vocabulary most meagre), and that they had come from Turkistan (Bukhara and Samarkand) by way of Mashhad, and thence through the deserts, by way of Tun and Tabas, to Kirman. He then went on to enquire with some eagerness whether there were in the town any cafes or wine-shops (wine-shops in Kirman!), and seemed much disconcerted when he heard that there were not. I soon left him, and proceeded to the postmaster's house.

      There I found one Mirza Muhammad Khan, of the Shah Ni'matu'llahi order of dervishes; Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultan-abad; and another, a parcher of peas (nokhud-biriz by profession, whom, as I shall have to say a good deal about him before I bid farewell to Kirman, and as I do not wish to mention his real name, I will call Usta Akbar. Till lunch-time we sat in the tanbal-khane ("idler's room" or drawing-room), smoking kalyans and conversing on general topics, including, of course, religion. The postmaster told me that he had a book wherein the truth of each dispensation, down to the present one (or Babi "Manifestation"), was proved by that which preceded it; and this book he promised to lend me so soon as it was returned to him by a Zoroastrian in whose hands it then was. I asked him about the signs which should herald the "Manifestation" of the "End of Time," and he said that amongst them were the following:-- That men should ride on iron horses; that they should talk with one another from great distances; that they should talk on their fingers; and that men should wear women's clothes and women


men's; "of which signs," he added, "you will observe that the first clearly indicates the railroad, the second the telephone, and the third the telegraph; so that nothing is wanting to apprise men of the advent of the Most Great Theophany." I enquired of him, as I had previously enquired of the Sheykh of Kum, as to the best and most authentic collections of Shi'ite traditions, and he mentioned with especial commendation the Usul-i-Kafi, the Rawza-i-Kafi, and the Man la yahzuri of Fakih.

      After lunch most of the guests indulged in a nap, but the parcher of peas came and talked to me for a while in a very wild strain, with which I subsequently became only too familiar. "If you would see Adam," he said, "I am Adam; if Noah, I am Noah; if Abraham, I am Abraham; if Moses, I am Moses; if Christ, lo, I am Christ." "Why do you not say at once 'I am God'?" I retorted. "Yes," he replied, "there is naught but He." I tried to ascertain his views as to the future of the human soul, but could extract from him no very satisfactory answer. "As one candle is lit from another," he said, "so is life kindled from life. If the second candle should say, 'I am the first candle,' it speaks truly, for, in essence, it is indeed that first candle which has thrust forth its head from another garment."

      Presently we were interrupted by the arrival of visitors, the officious and meddlesome Haji Muhammad Khan, and the Mulla- bashi. As soon as the customary forms of politeness had been gone through, the latter turned to me, saying--

      "Sahib, what is all this that we hear about you and Haji Mirza Muhsin the magician? Is it true?"

      "If you would kindly tell me what you have heard," I replied, "I should be better able to answer your question."

      "Well," he answered, "Haji Mirza Muhsin is telling everyone that you, being skilled in the Magic of the West, had challenged him to a contest; that you gave what proofs you could of your power, and he of his; but that he wrought marvels beyond your power, and, amongst other things, wrote a few lines


on a piece of paper, burned it before your eyes, and then drew it out from your pocket. That thereupon you had said that if he could summon the spirit of your father and cause it to converse with you in the French language, you would embrace the religion of Islam; and that he had done what you demanded. Is this true? and are you really going to become a Musulman?"

      "Really," I replied, "I am not; and, were I disposed to do so, Haji Muhsin (whom, after what you have told me, I must regard as a liar of quite exceptional attainments) is not exactly the sort of person who would effect my conversion. As for his story, every word of it is false; all that actually happened was this" (here I described our meeting in Haji Shirazi's shop). "Furthermore, my father, by the grace of God, is alive and in good health; neither do I see why, in any case, he should address me in French, since my language and his is English."

      On returning to the garden I found Afzal Khan the Beluch and his retainers, Mulla Gushtasp, and Aka Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak, awaiting my arrival. The first, somewhat overpowered by the Seyyid's theology, probably, left very soon; but the Seyyid, as usual, stayed a long while and talked a great deal. He first of all produced a small treatise on physiognomy ('ilm-i- kiyafa), of which he declared himself to be the author, and proceeded to apply the principles therein laid down to me. "You have a long arm and long fingers," said he, "which shows that you are determined to wield authority and to exercise supremacy over your fellows, also that you take care that whatever work you do shall be sound and thorough." He next produced a collection of aphorisms which he had written out for me, of which the only one I remember is, "Eat the bread of no man, and withhold thine own bread from none." He then dictated to me four questions connected with religion, which he wished me to copy out on four separate pieces of paper, and send to the Prince-Governor, with a letter requesting him to submit them to four learned theologians (whom he named), and to require them to


give an immediate answer, without consulting together or taking time to reflect. "You will see," the Seyyid remarked, with an anticipatory chuckle, "that they will all give different answers and all wrong, so that the Prince will recognise the inadequacy of their learning." I only remember one of these questions, which ran as follows: "Which of the four gospels now in the hands of the Christians is the Injil mentioned in the Kur'an?"

      While we were engaged in this conversation, the proprietor of the garden, Mirza Jawad, son of Aka Sewid Rahim, the late vazir of Kirman, was announced. He was a portly, pleasant-looking man of about forty-five or fifty, and was accompanied by his son, a very beautiful boy of unusually fair complexion, with dark-blue eyes, and long eyebrows and eyelashes, rendered even more conspicuous than they would naturally have been by a liberal application of surma (antimony). The Seyyid, however, did not allow their presence long to interrupt the unceasing stream of his eloquence, and began to catechise me about the gospels, asserting that the very fact of there being four proved that they were spurious, and that the true gospel had disappeared from the earth. He then enquired whether wine was lawful according to our law. I replied that it was, inasmuch as we knew that Christ Himself tasted wine on several occasions. "I take refuge with God!" cried the Seyyid; "it is a calumny: this alone is sufficient to prove that your gospels are spurious, for none of the prophets have ever drunk wine." "Well," I said, "I do not quite see your object in trying to disprove the genuineness of our gospels. I imagine that you wish to convince me of the truth of Islam, but please to remember that if you could succeed in convincing me that the gospels now in our hands are forgeries, you having no other and genuine gospel to put in their place, you would be no nearer converting me to Islam, but rather further from it than at present. You would either make me disbelieve in revealed religion altogether, or you would drive me back on the Pentateuch and make me


a Jew. "There is something in that," replied the Seyyid, "and I am now disposed to understand the matter in a different way. The word sharab originally means any kind of drink, since the verb sbariba, from which it is derived, is employed in a perfectly general sense. Your priests have not understood this, and have wrongly explained it as wine. The very miracle which you adduce as evidence proves my point, for you say that the attendants at the wedding feast were bidden to fill the jars with water. It is quite clear that what Christ wished to show was, that water was the best and most exhilarating of drinks, and that it was lawful, not unlawful, like wine." The little boy seemed to take the liveliest interest in this discussion, and kept whispering suggestions to the Seyyid, for he, like his father, was imbued with the ideas of the Sheykhis, and was evidently not unwilling to make a display of his knowledge.

      The Seyyid outstayed the other visitors, and, squatting down by the little stream, proceeded to give me much advice (a thing whereof he was ever prodigal), mingled with hints and warnings which I was for some time unable to comprehend.

      "Don't cultivate the acquaintance of so-and-so" (mentioning one of my Babi friends) "too much," he began, "and don't visit his house more than you can help. The Prince doesn't like him."

      "Why doesn't he like him?" I enquired.

      "The Prince had a very beautiful wife called Panba ('Cotton')," rejoined the Seyyid, "and one day in a fit of temper he said to her, 'Go to your father's house,' but without explicitly divorcing her. Your friend Mirza--- lived next door to her father, saw her, was smitten with her charms, and took her in marriage; and when the Prince (who soon repented of his hasty conduct) desired to take her back, he found that she was the wife of another. Naturally he was greatly incensed with Mirza---."

      "Naturally," I said, "but he would hardly be incensed with me for visiting him."

      "You don't understand my point," said the Seyyid. "The


people of Kirman are the greatest gossips and scandal-mongers under the sun; and the people of Kirman will say that you go there to see Panba, who is the most beautiful woman in the city."

      "What nonsense!" I exclaimed, "why, I never even heard of Panba till this moment, and when I go to see Mirza--- am naturally not introduced to his wives."

      "Never you mind that," said he; "take my advice and keep away from his house. You can't be too careful here. You don't know what the Kirmanis are like. It was a most fortunate thing that Mirza Jawad found me here when he came to see you."

      "It was very nice for him," I replied, "no doubt. But why so specially fortunate?"

      "Because," answered he, "seeing that I am your friend and associate, and hearing our improving conversation, he will think the better of you, and will be the slower to credit any slanders against you which he may hear."

      "I am not aware," said I, "that I have given any occasion for slander."

      "Perhaps you do not know what people say about your servant Haji Safar's sigha" returned he.

      "What do you mean?" I demanded sharply; "I was not aware that he had a sigha."

      The Seyyid laughed--a little, unpleasant, incredulous laugh. "Really?" said he; "that is very curious. I should have supposed that he would have consulted you first. Anyhow, there is no doubt about the matter, for I drew up the contract myself. And men say that the sigha, though taken in his name, was really intended for you."

      Here I must explain what a sigha is*. A Shi'ite may, according to his law, contract a temporary marriage with a woman of his

* For fuller details see Querry's Droit Musulman (Paris, 1871), vol.i, pp. 689-695, from which admirable compendium of Shi'ite law I have drawn several of the particulars given in the text.


own, or of the Jewish, Christian, or (though some contest this) Magian faith, for a fixed period of time, which may vary from a fraction of a day to a year or several years. Properly speaking, it is the contract drawn up by the officiating mulla (in which both the period of duration of the marriage, and the amount of the dowry--though this last may be no more than a handful of barley--must be specified), which is called the sigha, but the term is commonly applied to the woman with whom such marriage is contracted. This species of marriage (if it can be dignified by this name), though held in very proper detestation by Sunnite Muhammadans, is regarded by the Shi'ites as perfectly legal, and children resulting from it are held to be lawful offspring. Though prevalent to some extent throughout Persia, it flourishes with especial vigour in Kirman, where, owing to the great poverty of the people, the small dowry bestowed on the sigha induces many parents to seek for their daughters such engagement. Bad as this institution is at the best, the mullas, by one of those unrighteous legal quibbles of which they are so fond, have succeeded in making it yet more abominable. According to the law, a sigha, on completing the contracted period, must, before going to another husband, wait for forty-five days or two months to ascertain whether or no she is with child by the former husband. This, however, only applies to cases where the marriage has been actually consummated. So, as many of these women are practically sighas by trade, and do not wish to be subjected to this period of probation, the mullas have devised the following means of evading the law. When the contracted period of marriage has come to an end, the man makes a fresh contract with the woman for another very short period; this second (purely nominal) marriage, being with the same man as the first, is legal without any intervening period of probation, and is not consummated; so that, on its expiration, the woman is free to marry another man as soon as she pleases.

      The Sewid's hints, whether intended maliciously or prompted


by a friendly feeling, caused me a good deal of disquietude; for absurd and false as the slander was, I clearly saw that if it gained the credence of the vulgar it might become a source of actual peril. Haji Safar, who made no attempt to exculpate himself, was of the same opinion, and entreated me to leave Kirman as soon as possible. "Sahib," he concluded, "you do not know the malice and mischief of which these accursed Kirmanis are capable; if we stay here much longer they will find some pretext for kllling us both."

      "Nonsense," I said, "they are a quiet, peaceable, downtrodden folk, these same Kirmanis, though over-fond of idle tattle. Besides you know what Sheykh Sa'di says--'an-ra ki hisab pak-ast az muhasabe che bak-ast?' ('To him whose account is clean what fear is there of the reckoning? ') But in future I hope that you will be carefull to avoid doing anything which may compromise my good name. I have no wish to interfere either with your religion, or with such indulgences as are accorded to you by it, but I have a right to expect that you will avoid anything which is liable to discredit my character." And so the matter dropped, the quotation from Sa'di being more effective (as quotations from Sa'di or Hafiz always are with a Persian) than any quantity of argument.

      I have had occasion to allude to the unrighteous quibbles whereby the mullas, while keeping the letter, contravene the spirit of the law; and I may here add an instance (which was related to me to-day by one of my Babi friends) of the gross ignorance which sometimes characterises their decisions. A certain man in Kirman, wishing to expose this ignorance, addressed the following question to a distinguished member of the local clergy. "I agreed with a labourer," said he, "to dig in my garden a hole one yard square for eight krans: he has dug a hole half a yard square. How much should I pay him?" "Half the sum agreed upon, of course," said the mulla, "that is to say four krans." After thinking for a while, however, he


corrected himself: "two krans is the sum which you legally owe him," he declared; and this decision he committed to writing and sealed with his seal. Then the enquirer demonstrated to him that the labour required to excavate a hole measuring half a yard in each direction was only an eighth part of that needed for the excavation of one measuring a yard in each direction. This conclusion the cleric resisted as long as he could, but, being at length compelled to admit its justice, he got out of the difficulty by declaring that, though mathematically the labourer could only claim one krdn, his legal due was two krans.

      Monday, 17th June, 7th Shawwal.--This afternoon I visited a young secretary of the Prince's with whom I had become acquainted, and found him with the son of the Prince-Telegraphist, Mulla Yusuf, and other congenial friends (all, or nearly all, Ezeli Babis) sitting round a little tank which occupied the centre of the room, and smoking opium. The discussion, as usual, turned on religion, and Mulla Yusuf gave me some further instances of the quibbles whereby the Shi'ite clergy and their followers have made the law of no effect. "There are," said he, "six obligations incumbent on every Musulman, to wit, Prayer (salat), Fasting (siyam), Pilgrimage (hajj), Tithes (khums), Alms (zakat), and, under certain circumstances, Religious Warfare (jihad). Of these six, the last three have practically become null and void. Of Religious War they are afraid, because the infidels have waxed strong, and because they remember the disastrous results which attended their more recent enterprises of this sort*. As for the Tithes (khums, literally 'fifths'), they should be paid to poor Seyyids or descendants of the Prophet. And how do you suppose they manage to save their money and salve their consciences at the same time? Why, they place the amount of the money which they ought to give in a jar and pour treacle (shire) over it; then they offer this jar to a poor Seyyid (without,

* See my Traveller's Narrative, vol. ii, pp. 118-119, and n. 3,on the



of course, letting him know about the money which it contains), and, when he has accepted it, buy it back from him for two or three krans! Or else they offer him one tuman on condition that he signs a receipt for fifty." I turned these admissions against Mulla Yusuf when he began to argue for the superiority of Islam over Christianity. "You yourself," I said, "declare that the essential characteristic of the prophetic word is that it has power to control men's hearts; and as you have just told me that out of six things which Muhammad made binding on his followers, three have become of none effect, you cannot wonder if I question the proof of Islam by your own criterion. God knows that the mass of professing Christians are very far from putting into constant practice all the commands laid upon them by Him whom they profess to follow; but I should be sorry to think that His precepts and example had as little effect on my countrymen as those of Muhammad, on your own showing, seem to have on yours."

      On returning to the garden I found a note from the officious Haji Muhammad Khan, enquiring whether I had learned anything more about the two Frenchmen who had arrived in Kirman. He had also left with Hajl Safar a verbal message asking for some brandy, which message, by reason of Seyyid Huseyn's presence, Haji Safar communicated to me in Turkish. "Don't attempt to conceal anything from me," exclaimed the Seyyid, "by talking a foreign language, for I perfectly understand what you are talking about." This, however, was, as I believe, a mere idle boast.

      From Mulla Yusuf I to-day obtained a more circumstantial account than I had yet heard of an event which some time ago created a good deal of excitement in Kirman, especially amongst the Babis. A lad of fifteen, the son of an architect in the city, who had been brought up in the doctrines of the Sheykhis, turned Babi, and, inspired by that reckless zeal which is the especial characteristic of the "people of the Beyan," repaired to


Langar, the headquarters of the Sheykhis and the residence of the sons of Haji Muhammad Karim Khan, and there publicly addressed the assembled Sheykhis on the signs of the Manifestation of the Imam Mahdi and the general theory of Theophanies. The Sheykhis, believing him to be one of themselves, at first listened complacently enough as he developed his doctrine, and were even pleased with his eloquence and fervour. But when, after declaring that in each dispensation there must needs be a "Point of Darkness" opposed to the "Point of Light," a Nimrod against an Abraham, a Pharaoh against a Moses, an Abu Jahl against a Muhammad, an Antichrist (Dajjal) against a Mahdi, he so described the "Point of Light" and "Point of Darkness" of this cycle as to make it clear that by the former he meant Mirza 'Ali Muhammad the Bab, and by the latter Haji Muhammad Karim Khan, the fury of his audience burst forth; they seized him, dragged him from the mosque, reviled him, cursed him, pelted him with stones, bound him to a tree, and scourged him most cruelly. In spite of all they could do, however, he continued to laugh and exult, so that at last they were obliged to release him.

      Tuesday, 18th June, 8th Shawwal. --This afternoon, I received another visit from Afzal Khan the Beluch, who wished me to give him a letter of introduction to my friend the Nawwab Mirza Hasan 'Ali Khan at Mashhad, whither he proposed to proceed shortly. Then he began to persuade me to accompany him thither, and thence onwards to Kandahar and . Kal'at-i- Nasiri, his home in Beluchistan. "You say you are a traveller," conduded he, "desirous of seeing as much as you can of the world: well, Beluchistan is part of the world, and a very fine part too; not Persian Beluchistan, of course, which is a poor, miserable place, but our own land." I declined his seductive offer, and thereupon he taunted me with being afraid. At this juncture the Sheykh of Kum and the postmaster's son arrived.

      "Well," said the Sheykh, when the usual greetings had been


exchanged, "what do you make of these two Firangis who have come to Kirman?"

      "Hitherto," I replied, "I have hardly seen them, and consequently am not in a position to form an opinion."

      "They declare themselves to be Frenchmen," continued the Sheykh, "but if so it is a very astonishing thing that they should be so wanting in good manners as they appear to be, for we always suppose the French to be remarkable amongst European nations for their courtesy and politeness."

      "Your supposition is correct, as a rule," I answered, "even though there be exceptions; but you know the aphorism 'en- nadiru k'al-ma'dum' ('the exceptional is as the non-existent') In what way have they shown a lack of courtesy?"

      "Why," said the Sheykh, "his Royal Highness the Prince (may God perpetuate his rule!) naturally wished to see them and ascertain the business which had brought them here, so he sent a message inviting them to visit him. They refused to come. He was naturally very angry; but, seeing that they were Firangis, and so (saving your presence) not to be judged by our standards of good behaviour, he swallowed down his annoyance, and sent another message saying, 'Since you do not wish to visit me, I must needs visit you.' In answer to this second message they sent back word that their lodging was not suitable for receiving so august a personage. His Royal Highness hesitated to punish their churlishness as it deserved; but, finding that they had with them a Persian attendant lent to them by the Governor of Mashhad (with whom Prince Nasiru'd-Dawla is not on the best of terms), he ordered him to come to the palace for interrogation on the following day; 'for,' thought he, 'him at least I can oblige to speak.' When the Firangis found that their fists were going to be opened* in spite of them, they decided to accompany their man before the Prince, and, without giving any notice of their visit, in they marched with their great dirty boots (which


they never even offered to remove); neither would they give any satisfactory account of themselves or their business. We think it probable that they are come after walnut-trees, which, as men say, they cut and polish in some manner known to themselves, in such a way that pictures or reflections of any scene which may have taken place in the neighbourhood of the tree appear in the polished surface of the wood; but of this you probably know more than we do. The question is, are they really Frenchmen, as they assert?"

      "I don't know," said I; "all I can say is that they talk French, so far as I can judge, as though it were their native language."

      "Don't you believe a word of it," broke in the Beluch; "they are no more French than I am. Who are the French that they should dare to act towards his Royal Highness as these men have done? No; they are either Russians or English; of that you may be sure."

      We laughed at the Beluch's ideas on the balance of power in Europe, while he continued with increasing excitement--"If his Royal Highness will but give me a hint, I will seek out these Firangis in their lodging--I and my companions here --and will kill them, and cut off their heads, and lay them at the Prince's feet."

      "And how would you do that?" asked the Sheykh, with difficulty suppressing his mirth.

      "Do it?" rejoined Afzal Khan; "easily enough. I would find out where they lodged, walk in one fine day with an 'es- selamu 'aleykum' ('peace be upon you'), and cut them down with this sword of mine before they had time to speak, or flee, or offer the slightest resistance."

      "Oh," said the Sheykh, "but that wouldn't be at all right; you shouldn't say 'peace be upon you' to a man you are just going to kill."

      "Why not?" retorted the Beluch, "they are infidels, kafirs, and such it is lawful to slay in any manner."


      "But he is a kafir too," slyly remarked the Sheykh, pointing towards myself.

      "Yes, I know he is," exclaimed the Beluch, "and if only---" Here he was interrupted by a general roar of laughter.

      "O most excellent Khan," I cried, as soon as the general merriment had somewhat subsided, "now your fist is opened! Now I see why you were so eager for me to accompany you to your interesting, hospitable country. A long journey, in sooth, would it have been, and one, as I think, on which I might have set out singing--

      The Beluch hung his head in some confusion, and then began to laugh gently. "You are quite right, Sahib," he said, "but I know very well that you are an agent of your government, engaged in heaven knows what mischief here."

      "Why, look at me," I replied; "I live, as you see, like a dervish, without any of the circumstance or having which befits an envoy of such a government as ours."

      "Ay," he retorted, "but you English are cunning enough to avoid ostentation when it suits your own ends to do so. I know you to my cost, and that is the way it always begins."

      And so the matter dropped, and that was the last I saw of my friend Afzal Khan.

      Later on several other visitors came; the Seyyid, of course; Haji Shirazi, who was immensely convivial, having, as he informed me, drunk half a bottle of brandy "for his stomach's sake"; and the parcher of peas. The last drew me aside out of the hearing of the Seyyid (between whom and himself subsisted a most violent antipathy), and said he had come to ask me to have supper one night with him, the postmaster, and some other


congeniai friends, so that we could converse quietly and without fear of intrusion.

      "Thank you," I said, "I shall be very pleased to come any evening that suits you, and I am no less anxious than yourself for an opportunity for some quiet conversation; for hitherto, though I know that many of my friends here are Babis, we have only talked on side-issues, and have never come to the main point. And it is about the Bab especially, and Kurratu'l-'Ayn, and the others, not about Beha, that I want to hear. It was he whom I heard about and learned to admire and love before I left my native country: and since my arrival in Persia, though I have conversed with many Babis, it is always of Beha that they speak. Beha may be very well, and may be superior to the Bab, but it is about the Bab that I want to hear."

      "Yes," he replied, "you shall hear about him, for he is worth hearing about--the Lord Jesus come back to earth in another form. He was but a child of nineteen when his mission began, and was only twenty-six when they killed him--killed him because he was a charmer of hearts, and for no crime but this--

"Whose is that verse?" I enquired.

      "Oh," he replied, "the original verse is 'Iraki's, and runs thus--

But we have altered the verse to suit our purpose."

      At this point the Seyyid was seen approaching us, and the parcher of peas fled as from the Angel of Death. But Haji Shirazi outstayed even the Seyyid, and after supper consumed


as much brandy as he could get, observing repeatedly in a rather unsteady voice that no amount of it produced any effect upon him, because moisture so greatly predominated in his natural temperament.

      Wednesday, 19th June, 9th Shawwal.--This morning I received a visit from a very melancholy person, who, I think, held the office of treasurer to the Prince-Governor. He told me that he did not like Europeans, and would not have come to see me if he had not heard that I, unlike most of them, took an interest in religious questions, into which he forthwith plunged, arguing against the possibility of the use of wine being sanctioned by any true prophet, and defending the seclusion of women and the use of the veil. Against these last I argued very earnestly, pointing out the evils which, as it appeared to me, resulted from them. He was silent for a while after I had finished speaking, and then said:--

      "It is true; I admit the force of your arguments, and I cannot at this moment give a sufficient and satisfactory answer to them, though I believe there must be one. But I will not attempt to give an insufficient answer, for my sole desire is to be just and fair."

      Before he left he told me that he suffered much from indigestion, brought on by excessive meditation, adding, "I fear, I fear greatly." I asked him what he feared, and he replied, "God."

      In the afternoon Feridun came to me while I was sitting in Haji Shirazi's shop, to arrange for a visit to the dakhme, or "tower of silence" of the Zoroastrians. Haji Shirazi was most insolent to him, calling him a son of a dog ("pidar-sag"), a gabr, and the like. I saw poor Feridun flush up with an anger which it cost him an effort to control, and would fain have given the drunken old Haji a piece of my mind, had I been certain that he did not intend his rudeness for playful banter, and had I not further feared that in any case my remonstrances would only increase his spite against Feridun, which I could only hope to


suppress so long as I remained at Kirman. I told Feridun this afterwards, and he not only approved my action, but begged me not to interfere in any similar case. "It would do no permanent good," he said, "and would only embitter them against us. But do not forget what we poor Zoroastrians have to suffer at the hands of these Musulmans when you return to your native land, and try, if you can, to do something for us."

      Towards evening I rode out with Gushtasp and Feridun to the lonely dakhme situated on a jagged mountain-spur at some little distance from the town. Gushtasp rode his donkey; but Feridun, who was a bold and skilful rider, had borrowed a horse, for the Zoroastrians at Kirman are not subjected to restrictions quite so irksome as those which prevail at Yezd. We stopped twice on the way to drink wine, at a place called Sar-i-pul ("Bridge-end"), and at a sort of half-way house, where funerals halt on their way to the dakhme, or rather dakhmes, for there are two of them, one disused, and one built by Manakji, the late Zoroastrian agent at Teheran, a little higher up the ridge. At the foot of this, we dismounted, Mulla Gushtasp remaining below to look after the animals, while I ascended with Feridun by a steep path leading to the upper dakhme. Here Feridun, whose brother had recently been conveyed to his last resting-place, proceeded to mutter some prayers, untying and rebinding his girdle or kushti as he did so; after which he produced a bottle of wine and poured three libations to the dead, exclaiming as he did so, "Khuda bi-yamurzad hama-i-raftagan-ra" ("May God forgive all those who are gone!"), and then helped himself and passed the wine to me. Observing an inscribed tablet on the side of the dakhme (which was still some twenty yards above us) I called my companion's attention to it, and made as though I would have advanced towards it; but he checked me. "None," said he, "may pass beyond this spot where we stand, save only those whose duty it is to convey the dead to their last resting- place, and a curse falls on him who persists in so doing." As


he spoke he pointed to a Persian inscription cut on the rock beside us, which I had not previously observed, wherein a curse was invoked on anyone whom curiosity, or a desire "to molest the dead," should impel to enter the dakhme. Near this was inscribed the well-known verse--

Below this was recorded the date of the dakhme's completion --Dhi'l-Hijje 20th, A.H. 1283 (25th April, A.D. 1867), corresponding to the year 1236 of Yezdigird.

      On returning to the garden I found the inevitable Seyyid Huseyn, who had arrived soon after I had gone out, and, in my absence, had been inflicting his theological dissertations on Na'ib Hasan. It had been arranged that I should visit a certain Mirza Muhammad Ja'far Khan (a nephew of the great leader of the Sheykhis and antagonist of the Babis, Haji Muhammad Karim Khan), who had called upon me a few days previously: and the Seyyid, hearing this, insisted on accompanying me. On reaching his house, which stood alone at some distance from the town, we were received by him and a stout pallid youth named Yusuf Khan (who, I believe, was his cousin or nephew) in the tanbal- khane or lounging-room, the walls of which were profusely decorated with a strange medley of cheap European prints and photographs representing scripture incidents, scenes from Uncle Tom's Cabin, scantily clothed women, and other incongruous subjects, arranged in the worst possible taste. The low opinion of my host's character with which this exhibition inspired me was not bettered by his conversation, which was, so far as I remember, singularly pointless. He evidently felt ill at ease in the presence of the Seyyid, who enquired very searchingly as to the reception which the eldest of Haji Muhammad Karim Khan's sons, the chief of the Sheykhis, had met with at


the holy shrines of Kerbela and Nejef, whither he had recently gone. So far as we could learn, he had been anything but cordially received, and at Kazimeyn the people had not suffered him to preach in the mosque. On my return to the garden I had supper with Na'ib Hasan, who aspersed the character of my new acquaintance in a way which I cannot bring myself to repeat.

      Thursday, 20th June, 10th Shawwal. --This morning I paid a visit to one of the most eminent members of the clergy of Kirman, the mujtahid Mulla Muhammad Salih-i-Kirmani. He was a fine- looking man, with a long black beard and deeply furrowed brow, and received me with a somewhat haughty courtesy. He conversed on religious topics only, pointing out the beauties of the law of Islam, and taking great exception to the carelessness of Europeans in certain matters of purification. On leaving his house I was taken to see an iron foundry, where I was shown two excellent-looking Enfield rifles manufactured by a Kirmani gunsmith, in imitation of one of European workmanship lent to him by the Prince-Governor.

      In the afternoon I received a visit from the two Frenchmen of whose arrival in Kirman I have already spoken. Haji Muhammad Khan, Mulla Yusuf, and Seyyid Huseyn happened to come while they were with me; but the last, on a hint from Na'ib Hasan that wine was likely to be produced, fled precipitately, to the satisfaction of everyone. The Frenchmen appeared, from their account, to have had a very rough journey from Mashhad to Kirman, and not to enjoy much comfort even here; they were delighted with the wine, cognac, and tea which I placed before them (for they had not been able to obtain any sort of alcohol here, not knowing whither to go for it), and conversed freely on everything save the objects of their journey, of which they seemed unwilling to speak, though Haji Muhammad Khan, who really did speak French with some approach to fluency, endeavoured again and again to extract some information from them. He was so disgusted at his ill success that he afterwards


announced to me his conviction that they were persons of no rank or breeding, and that he had no wish to see anything more of them.

      In the evening I supped with the Prince-Governor, the party being completed by the Sheykh of Kum and the Prince-Telegraphist. The meal was served in European fashion in a room in the Bagh- i-Nasiriyya palace, which was brilliantly illuminated. A great number of European dishes was set before us, no doubt in my honour, though, as a matter of fact, I should have greatly preferred Persian cookery. Wine, too, was provided, and not merely for show either. The Prince, acting, I suppose, on the aphorism, "Address men according to the measure of their understandings," conversed chiefly on European politics, in which I felt myself thoroughly out of my depth. He was, however, extremely kind; and when I left, insisted on lending me a horse and a man to conduct me home.

      Friday, 21st June, 11th Shawwal. --In the afternoon I returned Mirza Jawad's call, and found with him his son and his son's tutor, Mulla Ghulam Huseyn, a Sheykhi, from whom I extracted the following account of the essential doctrines of his School:--

      "The Balasaris, or ordinary Shi'ites," said he, "assert that the essentials of religion are five, to wit, belief in the Unity of God (tawhid), the Justice of God ('adl), the Prophetic Function (nubuvvat), the Imamate (imamat), and the Resurrection (ma'ad). Now we say that two of these cannot be reckoned as primary doctrines at all; for belief in the Prophet involves belief in his book and the teachings which it embodies, amongst which is the Resurrection; and there is no more reason for regarding a belief in God's justice as a principal canon of faith than belief in God's Mercy, or God's Omnipotence, or any other of His Attributes. Of their five principles or essentials (usul), therefore, we accept only three; but to these we add another, namely, that there must always exist amongst the Musulmans a 'Perfect Shi'ite' (Shi'a-i-kamil) who enjoys the special guidance of the


Imams, and acts as a Cnannel of grace (Wasita-i-feyz) between them and their Church. This tenet we call 'the Fourth Support' (Rukn-i-rabi'), or fourth essential principle of religion."

      In the evening I was the guest of Usta Akbar, the parcher of peas, at supper, and stayed the night at his house. Amongst the guests were Aka Fathu'llah, a young Ezeli minstrel and poet, who sung verses in praise of the Bab, composed by himself; Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultan-abad; one of his intimates and admirers, a servant of the Farrash-bashi, named 'Abdu'llah; a post-office official, whom I will call Haydaru'llah; and the pea-parcher's brother. As the evening wore on, these began to talk very wildly, in a fashion with which I was soon to become but too familiar, declaring themselves to be one with the Divine Essence, and calling upon me by such titles as "Jenab-i-Sahib" and "Hazrat-i-Firangi" to acknowledge that there was "no one but the Lord Jesus" present. Wearied and somewhat disgusted as I was, it was late before they would suffer me to retire to rest on the roof.

      Saturday, 22nd June, 12th Shawwal. --The party at Usta Akbar's did not break up till about an hour and a half before sunset, when I returned to the garden accompanied by Sheykh Ibrahim, who from this time forth until I left Kirman became my constant companion, though more than once, disgusted at his blasphemous conversation and drunkenness, I endeavoured to discourage his visits. But he was not one to be easily shaken off; and on these occasions, when my indignation had been specially kindled against him, he would make so fair a show of regret for his conduct that I was constrained to forget his unseemly behaviour. Moreover, he was a man well worth talking to, so long as he was sober or not more than half drunk, having travelled widely through Persia, Turkey, and Egypt; seen many strange things and stranger people; and mixed with almost every class and sect, as it is the privilege of his order to do. He was, indeed, one of the most extraordinary men whom I ever met, and presented


a combination of qualities impossible in any but a Persian. Anarchist, antinomian, heretic, and libertine to the very core, he gloried in drunkenness, and expressed the profoundest contempt for every ordinance of Islam, boasting of how he had first eaten pork in the company of a European traveller with whom he foregathered in Egypt, and quoting in excuse for his orgies of hashish and spirits this couplet from the Masnavi--

I have seen him, on an occasion when by the laws of Islam the minor ablution was incumbent on him, take up an empty ewer (aftabe), and, when warned by his friends that it contained no water, reply, "Bah! What do I care? I only carry it to blind these accursed dogs of orthodoxy, who, if they had but proof of one-tenth of the contempt which I entertain for them and their observances, would tear me in pieces." He professed to be a Babi, and (as will be related in its proper place) had all but suffered death for his beliefs. When a youth he had visited Beha at Acre and Subh-i-Ezel in Cyprus, and declared himself to be a follower of the former, though in point of fact he paid no more attention to the commands and prohibitions of the Kitab-i-Akdas than to those of the Kur'an, accounting all laws, human and divine, as made by the wise for fools to observe. In short, he was just a free-thinking, free-living, antinomian dervish or kalandar, a sort of mixture of 'Omar-i-Khayyam and 'Iraki, with only a fraction of their talent and culture, and ten times their disregard for orthodox opinion and conventional morality. Yet was he lacking neither in originality, power of observation and deduction, nor humour; and his intelligence, now sadly undermined by narcotics and alcohol, must have originally been sufficiently acute. Such was the man in whose society it was my lot to pass


a considerable portion of my remaining days at Kirman. Again and again, as I have said, I would have cast him off and been quit of him, but ever the interest of his extraordinary character and the charm of his conversation made me condone his faults and bear with him a little longer. He was a perfect repository of information concerning the roads, halting-places, towns, and peoples of Western Asia; you had but to ask him how to reach any town from a given starting-place, and he would in a few minutes sketch you out two or three alternative routes, with the stages, advantages, disadvantages, and points of interest of each. To give an instance, I had at this time some idea of quitting Persia by Hamadan, and making my way thence to the Mediterranean, and I enquired of Sheykh Ibrahim whether this project were feasible.

      "Oh yes," he replied, "nothing can be easier. From Hamadan you will go to Sanandij, a march of four days; thence in four days to Suleymaniyye; thence in four days more to Mosul, where you must certainly pay a visit to Zeynu'l-Mukarrabin."

      "And who," enquired I, "is Zeynu'l-Mukarrabin?"

      "He is one of the most notable of 'the Friends"' (Ahbab, i.e. the Babis), replied he, "and to him is entrusted the revision and correction of all copies of the sacred books sent out for circulation, of which, indeed, the most trustworthy are those transcribed by his hand. His real name is Mulla Zeynu'l-'Abidin of Najaf-abad. You may also see at Mosul Mirza 'Abdu'l-Wahhab of Shiraz, the seal-engraver, who will cut for you a seal bearing an inscription in the New Writing (Khatt-i-badi'), and Mirza 'Abdu'llah 'Alaka-band, both of whom are worth visiting."

      "Are these the only Babis at Mosul?" I enquired.

      "Oh, no," he answered, "you will find plenty of them there and elsewhere on your route. You can tell them by their dress; they wear the Turkish fez with a small white turban, and a jubbe; they do not shave their heads, but on the other hand they never allow the zulf to grow below the level of the lobe of the


ear. Well, to continue. From Mosul you will go in four days to Jezire, thence in three days to Mardin, thence in four days to Diyar Bekr, thence in four days to 'Urfa, thence in two days to Suwarak, thence in three days to 'Awra, thence in three days to Birejik, and thence in six days to Iskanderun (Alexandretta) where you can take ship for Constantinople, or Alexandria, or your own country, as you please. But you should by all means go to Acre, and visit Beha, so that your experience may be complete."

      "You have visited Acre, have you not?" I enquired; "tell me what sort of place it is, and what you saw there."

      "Yes," he replied, "I was there for seventy days, during which period I was honoured (musharraf) by admission to the Holy Presence twelve times. The first time I was accompanied by two of Beha's sons, by his amanuensis and constant attendant Aka Mirza Aka Jan of Kashan, whom they call 'Jenab-i-Khadimu'llah' ('His Excellence the Servant of God'), and by my fellow-traveller. All these, so soon as we entered the presence-chamber, prostrated themselves on the ground; but while I, ignorant of the etiquette generally observed, was hesitating what to do, Beha called out to me 'It is not necessary' ('Lazim nist'). Then said he twice in a loud voice, 'Baraka'llahu 'aleykum' ('God bless you!'), and then, 'Most blessed are ye, in that ye have been honoured by beholding Me, which thing saints and prophets have desired most earnestly.' Then he bade us be seated, and gave orders for tea to be set before us. My companion hesitated to drink it, lest-he should appear wanting in reverence, seeing which Beha said, 'The meaning of offering a person tea is that he should drink it.' Then we drank our tea, and Khadimu'llah read aloud one of the Epistles (Alwah); after which we were dismissed. During my stay at Acre I was taken ill, but Beha sent me a portion of the pilaw which had been set before him, and this I had no sooner eaten than I was restored to health. You should have seen how the other believers envied


me, and how they begged for a few grains from my share! And this happened on two subsequent occasions. When I left Acre, Beha commended me, but bade me preach the doctrine no more, because I had already suffered enough in God's way."

      Later on Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz joined us, and, thinking to please Sheykh Ibrahim, pretended that he too was a Babi. But when Sheykh Ibrahim feigned ignorance of the whole matter, expressing surprise, and, in some cases, mild disapproval, at what Mirza Yusuf told him of the doctrines and practices of the sect, the latter, thinking that he had made a mistake, changed his ground, and told us that he had only pretended to be a convert to the new religion so as to get money from the rich and charitable Babis at Yezd. I could hardly contain my laughter as I watched Mirza Yusuf thus entangling himself in the snare set for him by the Sheykh, who, meanwhile, never so much as smiled at the success of his stratagem. I expected, of course, that the whole story would become known to all the Babis in Kirman, but I think the Sheykh kept his own counsel, being less concerned with the exposure of hypocrisy, than with his own amusement.

      After Mirza Yusuf's withdrawal, the Sheykh, having communicated to me a great deal of very scandalous gossip about the postmaster (whom he was by way of considering as one of his best friends), began to discuss with high approval the character of the free-thinking poet Nasir-i-Khusraw, whose poems and apocryphal autobiography he had been recently reading. The episode in the autobiography which had especially delighted him, and which he repeated to me with infinite relish, runs as follows*: _

      "After much trouble we reached the city of Nishapur, there being with us a pupil of mine, an expert and learned metaphysician. Now in the whole city of Nishapur there was no one who knew us, so we came and took up our abode in a mosque. As we walked through the city, at the door of every


mosque by which we passed men were cursing me, and accusing me of heresy and atheism; but the disciple knew nothing of their opinion concerning me. One day, as I was passing through the bazaar, a man from Egypt saw and recognised me, and approached me, saying, 'Art thou not Nasir-i-Khusraw, and is not this thy brother Abu Sa'id?' In terror I seized his hand, and, engaging him in conversation, led him to my lodging. Then I said, 'Take thirty thousand miskals of gold, and refrain from divulging the secret.' When he had consented, I at once bade my familiar spirit produce that sum, gave it to him, and thrust him out from my lodging. Then I went with Abu Sa'id to the bazaar, halted at the shop of a cobbler, and gave him my shoes to repair, that we might go forth from the city, when suddenly a clamour made itself heard near at hand, and the cobbler hastened in the direction whence the sounds proceeded. After a while he returned with a piece of flesh on the end of his bradawl. 'What,' enquired I, 'was the disturbance, and what is this piece of flesh?' 'Why,' replied the cobbler, 'it appears that one of Nasir-i-Khusraw's disciples appeared in the city and began to dispute with the doctors thereof. These repudiated his assertions, each adducing some respectable authority, while he continued to quote in support of his views verses of Nasir-i- Khusraw. So the clergy tore him in pieces as a meritorious action, and I too, to merit a reward, cut off a portion of his flesh.' When I learned what had befallen my disciple, I could no longer control myself, and said to the cobbler, 'Give me my shoes, for one should not tarry in a city where the verses of Nasir-i-Khusraw are recited.' So I took my shoes, and came forth with my brother from Nishapur."

The Sheykh then recited to me the two following fragments of Nasir-i-Khusraw's verse, which, it will be allowed, are sufficient to account for the lack of favour wherewith he was regarded by the clergy of Nishapur:--


      Ere evening was past, the Sheykh, like Nasir-i-Khusraw, was "dead drunk, not like a common sot," and finally, to my great relief, went to sleep, wrapped in his cloak, in a formless heap on the floor, where we left him till morning. He awoke very late, and was sipping his morning tea with a woe-begone air which contrasted strangely with his vivacity of the previous day, when visitors were announced, and my disagreeable acquaintance, Haji Muhammad Khan, accompanied by a pleasant, well-informed mulla named Haji Sheykh Ja'far of Kerbela, entered the room. He was more than usually impertinent and inquisitive; enquired when Sheykh Ibrahim had come to the garden, and, on learning from me that he had been there since the previous night, lifted his eyebrows in surprise, remarking that the Sheykh had said he came that morning early; and then proceeded to enquire pointedly how the postmaster was, and whether I had any fresh news from Adrianople or Acre, meaning, of course, to imply his belief that I was a Babi. Finally, however, Na'ib Hasan came to the rescue, reminding me in a loud voice that I had accepted an invitation to visit Hurmuzyar, one of my Zoroastrian friends, at his garden. He omitted to mention that the engagement was for the evening, but the intimation had the desired effect of causing Haji Muhammad Khan to retire, taking the divine with him.

      I now wished to go out, but to this Sheykh Ibrahim objected, declaring that it was too hot; so we had lunch, and then


adjourned to the summer-house, where he fell asleep over my Babi history. On awakening from his nap he was more like his usual self, and began to entertain me with his conversation.

      "So you met Sheykh S---, the Babi courier, at Shiraz, did you?" he began; "a fine old fellow he is, too, and has had some strange experiences. Did he tell you how he ate the letters?"

      "No," I replied; "tell me about it."

      "Ah," he continued, "he is not given to talking much. Well you must know that he goes to Acre once every year to convey letters from 'the Friends' in Persia and elsewhere, and to bring back replies. He takes Isfahan, Shiraz, Yezd, and the south, while Dervish Khavar takes Mazandaran, Gilan, and the northern part of 'Irak, riding about on a donkey, selling drugs, and passing himself off as an oculist. The Sheykh, however, goes everywhere on foot, save when he has to cross the sea; and this, I fancy, he only does when he cannot well avoid it, at least since a ship in which he was a passenger was wrecked between Bushire and Basra, and everyone on board drowned save himself and another dervish, who managed to keep themselves above water by means of floating wreckage, until, after fourteen or fifteen hours' exposure, they were drifted ashore. As a rule, he so times his return from the interior as to reach Bushire early in the month of Dhi'l-Hijje, whereby he is enabled to join the pilgrims bound for Jedda and Mecca. After the conclusion of the pilgrimage he makes his way to Acre, where he generally stays about two months, while the letters which he has brought are being answered. Though he is not, perhaps, honoured by admission to Beha's presence more than once or twice during this period, he is in many ways a privileged person, being allowed to go into the andarun (women's apartments) when he pleases, and to sit with outstretched feet and uncovered head even in the presence of the Masters (Akayan, i.e. Beha's sons). When the letters are all answered, he packs them into his wallet, takes his staff, and sets off by way of Beyrout for Mosul, where he stays for about a month with Zeynu'l-Mukarrabin, of whom I told you a few days


ago. Thence he makes his way down the Tigris to Baghdad, and so across the frontier into Persia. He walks always off the beaten track to avoid recognition, and, for the same reason, seldom enters a town or village save to buy sufficient bread and onions (he is passionately fond of onions) to last him several days. These he packs away in his wallet on the top of the letters. At night he generally sleeps in a graveyard, or in some other unfrequented spot where he is not likely to be disturbed, unless there be some of 'the Friends' in the place where he halts, in which case they are always glad to give him a night's lodging. Well, it was about his eating his letters that I was going to tell you. Once in the course of his travels he was recognised in a village near Yezd, arrested, and locked up in an empty room to await examination by the ked-khuda, or head-man. The ked-khuda chanced to be engaged when word was brought to him that the Babi courier had been caught. 'Leave him locked up where he is,' said he, 'till I can come.' Now the Sheykh is a man of resource, and, finding that the ked-khuda did not immediately come to examine him, he began to cast about for some means of destroying the compromising letters in his wallet; for he knew that if these should fall into the hands of the enemy the writers would get into trouble. Unluckily there was no fire, nor any means of making one; and the earth which formed the floor of the room was too hard to dig a hole in, even if it would have been safe to bury the letters in a place whence they could not afterwards be removed. There was only one thing left to do, namely, to eat them; and this the Sheykh proceeded to do. It was a tough meal, for their total weight amounted to several pounds, and some of them were written on thick, strong paper. In particular there was one great packet from Rafsinjan which cost the Sheykh a world of trouble, and on the senders of which, as I have myself heard him say, he lavished a wealth of curses and expletives ere he finally succeeded in chewing it up and swallowing it. At length, however, the whole mass of correspondence was disposed of, and, when his persecutors arrived, there was the


old Sheykh (with a very dry mouth, I expect, and, likely enough, somewhat uneasy within) sitting there as innocent-looking as could be. The ked-khuda and his man didn't pay much heed to that, though, nor to his protestations; but when they had turned his wallet inside out, and searched all his pockets, and found not so much as the vestige of a letter to reward them for their pains, they were rather taken aback, and began to think they had made a mistake. They gave him the bastinado to make all sure but, as he continued to protest that he was no Babi, and no courier, and knew nothing about any letters at all, they eventually had to let him go."

      We were interrupted by the unwelcome arrival of Seyyid Huseyn of Jandak, and, quickly as I pushed the Babi history under a cushion, he noticed the movement, and forthwith proceeded to make himself disagreeable (an accomplishment in which he excelled) to Sheykh Ibrahim, persistently and pointedly asking him about wine, where the best qualities were manufactured, how and when it was usually drunk, and the like, on all of which points the Sheykh professed himself perfectly ignorant. The Seyyid, however, continued to discourse in this uncomfortable strain, concluding severely with the aphorism "Man dana bi-dinin, lazimahu ahkamuhu" ("Whosoever professeth a faith, its laws are binding on him").

      Presently the Farrash-bashi's servant, 'Abdu'llah, who was one of the Sheykh's intimates, joined us, and we had tea; but the Seyyid continued to act in the same aggressive and offensive manner, enquiring very particularly whether the cup placed before him had been properly purified since last it touched my infidel lips. Mirza Yusuf of Tabriz, who had brought it, answered pertly enough, and put the old man in a still worse temper, so that I was very glad when Na'ib Hasan reminded me in a loud voice that it was time to set out for the garden of Hurmuzyar whose guest I was to be that evening, and the Seyyid departed grumbling as he went, "You have already forgotten the advice


I gave you the other day, 'Eat no man's bread, and grudge not thine own bread to any one." '

      Sheykh Ibrahim, though uninvited, insisted on accompanying me and Na'ib Hasan to Hurmuzyar's entertainment. We found about twenty guests there assembled, all, with the exception of ourselves and Fathu'llah, the minstrel, Zoroastrians; Rustams and Rashids; Shahriyars, Dinyars, and Ormuzdyars; Key-Khusraws and Khuda-murads; Bahmans, Bahrams, Isfandiyars and Mihrabans. The entertainment was on a magnificent scale, the minstrel sang well, and the pleasure of the evening was only marred by the conduct of Sheykh Ibrahim, who got disgustingly drunk, and behaved in the most indecorous manner. "But that he came under your aegis," said Hurmuzyar to me afterwards, when I apologised for his behaviour, and explained how he had forced his company upon me, "we would have tied his feet to the poles and given him the sticks; for if sticks be not for such drunken brutes as him, I know not for what they were created." I was constrained to admit that he was right; but for all that I was unable to shake off my disreputable companion, who accompanied us back to the garden when we said good-night to our host, and slept heavily on the ground wrapped in his cloak.

      The next day, Monday, 14th Shawwal, 24th June, will ever be to me most memorable, for thereon did I come under the glamour of the Poppy-wizard, and forge the first link of a chain which it afterwards cost me so great an effort to break. Thereon, also, was first disclosed to me that vision of antinomian pantheism which is the World of the Kalandar, and the source of all that is wildest and strangest in the poetry of the Persians. With this eventful day, then, let me open a new chapter.

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